Sepsis Awareness

Sarah & her sister Emily taken end of September 2013.

Sepsis.  How many of you have heard of this word?  I'll say it again - Sepsis.  I remember the day I first heard of this word and even then I didn't understand it.  Most people don't, I am still learning about it over 3 years later.  Sarah died of Sepsis on October 10, 2013.

I have gone through so many "what-if's" over the past few years, but one of the biggest ones is simply, "What if I was aware of what Sepsis was before and knew the signs?"  Sarah only started getting sick on the evening of October 8th, 2013, stayed home from school on the 9th due to the "stomach bug" - or so we thought.  But by the morning of October 10th, it was already too late when we took her to the ER.  There was nothing that could be done.  There was no lack of effort on behalf of the doctors as we had the support of 2 hospitals trying to save her life, it was simply too late.

  • For every hour Sepsis goes undiagnosed, the mortality rate increases by 8%.
  • There are far more deaths in the US from Sepsis than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined.
  • ANYONE can get Sepsis: from the flu, a scrape on their arm, recent hospital stay, surgery, UTI, etc.
  • Sepsis is more common than a heart attack.
  • Sepsis is the final common pathway in the vast majority of deaths from infection worldwide.  Think about that. 
  • Sepsis is the leading cause of hospital deaths. 
  • A new case of Sepsis occurs every few seconds. 

Sepsis is a life threatening medical condition that arises from the body's attempt to fight an infection that causes the immune system to damage tissues and organs.  Being aware of the condition and acting quickly with antibiotics will save lives, but only if people, nurses and doctors are aware of this condition and can react quickly to it.  Time is against you when battling for survival when you have Sepsis.  It's of utmost importance to Suspect Sepsis when you have the following symptoms:

  • You are severely sick or you are not yourself
  • Overall general weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever and chills
  • Thirst
  • Signs of worsening organ function:
    • Difficult or rapid breathing
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Low blood pressure
    • Low urine output

If any of these symptoms are present and there is a suspected infection of any kind, suspect Sepsis and seek medical attention immediately and inform your nurses/doctors of your concern of Sepsis.  

Sepsis can be prevented in most cases by preventing infections or treating them promptly. Remember to:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Look for signs of skin breakdown and infection.
  • See your healthcare professional about any infections, ask if it could be sepsis and follow treatment plans as prescribed.
  • Stay current on vaccines.

Disclaimer: I am no doctor and don't claim to be.  I only repeat here what I have found online and in my experience of this life threatening or altering condition of Sepsis.  My daughter died of this condition and if only we knew what to look for and speak it's name soon enough, Sarah may still be alive today.  

It's my goal to bring awareness of Sepsis to as many people as I can.  Stay tuned for more information regarding Sepsis in the future.  Thank you.